Like in many other vehicles, a Toyota Tacoma's stock rims come with Toyota-branded center caps. Sometimes, you may want to remove these center caps for cleaning, repair, repainting, or replacement. So how do you remove a Tacoma's center cap? We've done the research for your convenience.
Although the Tacoma's stock center caps may vary in size and design, all of them use spring clips. As such, you can pry them off the rims using a flathead screwdriver or even your bare hands. Alternatively, you may also take the whole wheel off and push the center cap off from the inner side of the rim.
Do keep reading the next sections, because we've prepared some video links to help you get your truck's center caps off. We've also added some helpful tips about repainting and preventing your center caps from falling off or getting stolen.
How To Remove Toyota Center Caps
Like many other car manufacturers, Toyota uses spring clips to let its vehicles' stock center caps attach to their corresponding stock rims. The Tacoma's center caps, however, are quite larger and more rugged-looking than the shield-like caps of smaller Toyota vehicles like the Corolla, Camry, Avalon, and GR86.
Pull Center Cap Off By Hand
Because of the Tacoma center caps' size and design, removing them is a bit easier for people who have enough grip strength. You may get enough grip on the cap by inserting your fingers in the lug nut slots around the center cap. One quick pulling motion should do the trick, as shown in the video below.
Pry Center Cap Off With A Flathead Screwdriver
On other center cap designs, you may also try to wedge a flathead screwdriver or a center cap removal tool between the wheel and the cap. Some Toyota center caps have dedicated slots meant for the placement of such tools.
Although this is a much easier method, you will need to be careful not to damage the cap or the wheel surfaces. Check out another quick video below showing how to pry a center cap loose with a flathead screwdriver.
Pop Center Cap Off From Behind The Rim
If pulling out by hand is too hard, or if you don't want to risk scratching your center cap or rim, then you may want to work behind the rims. Here's a short video on how to do it.
Below are the steps in popping the center cap out from behind the rim.
- Remove the wheel and tire assembly
- Lay down the wheel and tire assembly face down on a protective surface (rubber mat or large cloth)
- Use a pair of long-nose pliers to take the center cap's tension ring out
- Use a plastic or wooden handle to tap the center cap out
Other Methods Of Removing Center Caps
A few car owners have also found other creative ways to remove center caps from their vehicle's wheels. Some people thought of these methods to pry loose a particularly "clingy" center cap. On the other hand, some car owners wanted to find tools that were more delicate to their car than a flat-head screwdriver.
Some of these creative methods are as follows:
- Using a suction cup on the center cap's face
- Wrapping a thin string around the edges of the center cap
- Using a velcro tape
Here's a short video on how a car owner used a suction cup to remove a wheel center cap.
Toyota Tacoma Center Cap Installation
So far we've covered how to remove the Tacoma's center cap. Now, how do you reattach it?
As we've seen in the first video above, re-installing the center cap is even easier than prying it off. All you need to do is to align the cap and give it a generous push. If pushing with your bare hands won't suffice, then you might want to tap the cap in using a rubber mallet.
What Does A Wheel Center Cap Do?
Although center caps are used to protect a vehicle's spindle nut and wheel bearings from dirt, moisture, and corrosion, they lean towards a more decorative or aesthetic purpose nowadays. In fact, some rims do not even have any center caps.
Center caps like those in the Tacoma cover the center bore of the wheels. They prevent dust and moisture from accumulating inside the bore and therefore protect the area from rust and weathering.
It's true that many modern cars can run fine even without center caps. However, aside from losing the additional protective layer for the wheels' center bore, the vehicle also loses some style points. Moreover, missing center caps can also bring down the vehicle's resale value.
How Do You Paint Toyota Center Caps?
Cleaning, repainting, and customization are some of the most common reasons to remove the Tacoma's center caps. For example, some people want to repaint their rims to give them a fresh or a different look. In this case, painting the center caps will help to complete the refreshed look.
Check out this video on how to restore a set of old Toyota center caps.
Here are the center cap restorations steps done in the video.
- Remove the center caps.
- Clean center caps with degreaser. You may also use paint thinner if needed.
- Sand or scuff the cap surfaces
- Clean center caps again to remove any particles left from the sanding or scuffing.
- Spray 2 to 3 coats of primer, making sure to let each coat dry before applying the next one
- Sand off imperfections from the primer coating, if any. Re-spray sections with primer if needed.
- Spray 2 to 3 coats of your desired color. Again, make sure to let each coat dry properly before spraying the next coat.
- Brush your desired contrasting paint color on the logo engravings. You may also leave these areas in the same spray paint color. The styling is up to you.
- Spray on 2 to 3 coats of enamel clear coat. Allow the appropriate drying time between coats.
- Let the clear enamel cure for one week before re-installing the center caps.
As a reminder, drying time and curing time may vary depending on the automotive paint brand. You should always read the product instructions to achieve the best results.
How Do You Secure Center Caps?
As we've seen in the videos, many modern center caps can be installed and removed easily. Because of this ease, many pranksters, vandals, and petty thieves tend to swipe hubcaps off cars parked in open public places. This is a well-known headache for many car owners.
Alternatively, the center caps' plastic material, spring clips, and tension ring may also fail through normal wear and tear. In this case, even the spinning wheel's vibration on the road can pop the center cap off.
So what can you do to secure your snap-on center caps? Here are a few ideas we found.
If your center cap's spring clips or plastic material have deteriorated, then there's a chance that your caps can become loose. In addition to the road vibration, the different heating and cooling rates between your metal wheels and your plastic center caps can make the caps pop off more easily.
In this case, you may try applying some clear silicone to the center caps' spring clips just before re-installing them into the wheels. When the silicone dries up, it will provide a flexible and water-proof bond between the cap and the wheel.
You can still pry off the cap if needed. However, you will need a bit more force to do so.
If your center caps are in good condition and you don't want them stolen, then clear silicone may not be enough. Some irritated car owners came up with DIY center cap fasteners using crimped wires. These wires attach to the center caps and the lug nuts.
Customized Retaining Rings
Finally, some creative aftermarket manufacturers have come up with customized retainer rings to prevent center cap theft. These rings fit into the rotors' threaded studs and are secured by the lug nuts.
Of course, you will need a little extra time to install your center caps. Conversely, you will also need to ensure that these retaining rings are in place every time you change your tires.
The Toyota Tacoma's center caps use spring clips to snap onto the rims. Since there are no screws or bolts to hold the cap in place, you can pull or pry off the center caps. Some methods include:
- Pulling off by hand
- Prying off with a screwdriver or a center cap removal tool
- Tapping off from the inner side of the rims
- Suction cups
- Velcro tapes
- Wedging a thin string around the cap
Thank you very much for reading. We hope we were able to guide you on how to remove, repaint, re-install, and replace your Tacoma's center cap.
For more interesting reads about Tacoma and other automotive topics, you may also check out these great articles below.